WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH COVID-19?
Pop Warner across Arizona is moving forward with our 8/1 start date as usual. Currently the virus is only affecting our In Person registrations and free clinics. Currently all early registrations will be fully refundable if for some reason our season is cancelled. If you want to lock in the Early Bird price, you should do so. We currently have no plans to extend the Early Bird pricing.
When do your seasons begin?
Pop Warner is one season a year with the first day of practice usually on August 1st (depending on when it falls) and lasts for most teams through November. All teams Junior Pee Wee and above are able to compete all the way to Nationals in December.
who can I call to ask questions?
Our league is entirely run by volunteers, who can not handle the volume of calls that occur with basic questions. Please understand we have jobs and our teams to handle as well. Be sure to read through this FAQ to see if your question is answered. Then go to the Contact Us page to reach out if you still have questions.
When can I sign up for the next season?
Early Bird pricing and sign ups usually begin in April. Last Minute pricing and signups end the week prior to the start of the season.
What sports do you offer?
We offer the ability to play tackle football and cheer from ages 5-13.
How often are practices?
During the season, Football practices will be two days a week between two and two and half hours (depending on the age of the team) on either Tuesdays and Thursdays or Mondays and Wednesday depending on field availability and team assignments. The first three weeks of the season is known as the Conditioning period and it will be five nights a week for the same time frame. This is to both get kids in proper shape but is also necessary to teach the basics of the team’s offense and defense.
Where are practices?
Unfortunately for the sport of football in the east valley, most if not all of the local schools are well funded and do not need the money made by renting out their fields. The city fields are in intense demand by a long list of other sports and exactly what locations on which days is up in the air until shortly before the season starts. In general the practice and home game locations are in Chandler and Gilbert. Some of the locations are listed on the Fields portion of the Parent Portal.
When are games and how long do they last?
Due to the heat when the season starts in August, the majority of the games are early in the morning on Saturdays. Usually ending at noon. The oldest teams some times get a chance to play at nights under the lights at local High Schools. Players usually arrive an hour before kick off for warm up and weigh ins (for weighted teams) and then play for around an hour and a half to two hours. If one team gets up by 24 points the clock keeps running and the game goes faster. A close game with lots of passing and overtime will run longer.
Where are the games?
During the regular season games will take place all over the valley. Generally teams will play four home and four away games. The furthest commute is usually under an hour to Buckeye or Glendale and usually only one far game like that a season. Home games are in Chandler or Gilbert.
For Junior Pee Wee and above, if your team is good enough to advance in the playoffs past the state championship, you can advance to California and then to Nationals in Florida. Usually, teams that can that deep, know they are good early on and coaches will prepare you for what is ahead.
Are there tryouts or combines?
No. There are other leagues within Pop Warner that assemble their teams this way, but we do not. We believe that good coaches will keep and instruct their players to get better as a group, rather than looking to cast off kids who might be new to the sport, or just not as good of athlete (yet) as early bloomers who might be on the team.
Do you have Clinics or Camps?
Yes during the summer we have multiple free clinics where players can come out and get a sense of what to expect from coaches and the game. These are not padded camps, so there is no tackling, but we do drills and install concepts that flag and 7v7 avoid because they pertain more to the tackle portion of the game. Check out our Calendar around April for updated Clinic schedules.
We also post clinics of local High School programs when they allow open enrollment from outside their own clinics. These are generally for incoming 6th-8th graders.
How do you determine what team my son or daughter plays with?
The short answer is, it is complicated.
With football we have Weighted and Unweighted divisions that you can choose. Every year, the number of teams we have in each division will fluctuate as teams move up in age, or portions stay down while other portions move up. Some times teams will move from other leagues as well. If players have played with a coach in seasons prior, then we allow them to grandfather in. Those players may bring friends and we will try to get them on teams together leaving only a few spots. Other teams may have a large group of players age up and have a lot of slots available. Veteran coaches will have requests and new coaches will have slots to fill. After requests and grandfathering in players, new players are slotted by the practice location closest to their home (but close is always a relative term).
With Cheer the number of teams will vary based on sign ups and will be based off their ages.
Do all players get to play?
Pop Warner is an instructional league whose goal is to give players an understanding and love for the sport of football and cheer. This means that all players will get to participate but the amount of participation is not going to be equal amongst all players. League representatives check during third quarter that all players have participated and mandates play time in the 4th quarter for those who have not. There are leagues where players may never see a game field, but Pop Warner is NOT one of them.
What requirements does my child need to meet in order to play?
They will require a signed copy of the Pop Warner Sports Physical, a copy of their Birth Certificate, a copy of their Q4 report from the previous year showing that they have a GPA above a 1.5 average. Players with 98% and above are eligible for our Pop Warner Little Scholars event at the end of the season.
What is a Weighted Division?
Players are divided up in to divisions based on the age AND their weight. This means that all players on a team are going to be similar size and age. Often players will be in an age and weight range that makes them eligible for two different divisions. Generally speaking, we recommend players play as the oldest and heaviest they can. This increases their confidence and enjoyment of the sport. However there are other factors to consider and the decision is the parents to make as long as their child fits the age and weight requirements every week during weigh ins.
WHY should I choose a Weighted Division?
Parents and coaches will give different responses to this question. One generally agreed upon argument is that most kids are generally in similar height and weight categories growing up and playing in a weighted league means that kids can learn the sport without encountering kids who have matured faster or are just bigger. A kid who might love football gets hit by a kid twice his weight and decides to never play again, is something to consider.
What are Weigh Ins?
In the weighted divisions, prior to every single game, every player on both teams will weigh in on a certified scale to verify that the players are the correct weight. If a player is too light or heavy, they will not be able to play. Parents should consider this scenario when deciding which division to register.
What is an Unweighted Division?
Players are only divided up by their age. But the size of the kids is not a factor. With unweighted divisions, we generally recommend that players be older when choosing between divisions.
Why should I choose an Unweighted Division?
Some kids who are just naturally bigger, have a better experience when they are playing with and against kids their own age. In a weighted division a larger kid might be the youngest on a team but could be the oldest in an unweighted division. Some parents may also feel that differences in size is part of the game and want their child challenged. Another consideration is that unweighted football is harder to form teams at times due to limited numbers. Some players may be asked to play for weighted teams if league numbers do not allow for a team in their age range.
How do I get in to coaching?
If you want to be a Head Coach you will need to be interviewed by the Board to see if you understand the role and are prepared for it. If you want to be an assistant coach you can fill out the questionnaire when registering and the Head Coach of your player’s team will see if you are a good fit. Please understand that you may be an awesome assistant coach but not be a good fit for the Head Coach your son is assigned to.
Do you need volunteers in other areas besides coaching?
Absolutely. The role of Business Manager and Team Parents are almost as important as the head coach to the success of a season. Teams also need chain crews, snacks, water and shade tent deployment, photographers, videographers and anyone with medical training is always a boon to a team.
As a league we also need volunteers. There is so much that goes in to making a season happen and every year it is done with too few hands. Most of our board members and league volunteers are also coaches and volunteers on their child’s team as well and their league duties are less because they have time for them and more because the job just wouldn’t get done without them. If you have a positive attitude and willingness to help, we would love to hear from you.
How do I volunteer?
Start by checking out our Calendar and attending the next League Meeting. There you will find out what is happening and meet the people making it happen. It is rare that a genuine offer to get involved and volunteer is ever turned down.
If you are unhappy with how something is happening within the league, the best way to help fix it is get involved. Often we may vary well agree with you, we just need the man power to address it.
How much does a season cost?
April-May is Early Bird Registration fee of $350 for Football and $250 for cheer.
June-July 14th is General Registration fee of $400 for Football and $300 for cheer.
July14th-August 1 is Late Registration fee of $450 for Football and $350 for cheer.
This will cover the fees that rent fields, pay refs and trainers, rent shoulder pads, helmets and jersey and cheer uniforms. However, there will be some other equipment and team fees that will vary on the team and age of your players. The pads and helmets must be returned at the end of the season or they will be charged to the card you registered with.
Are there payment plans?
Up until the Late Registration date, you can pay your League Registration in installments. You will see the break down at the check out process of the Registration. The earlier you register, the cheaper the registration fee and the smaller the payments will be due to a longer time to pay them. Once registration is closed, all players must be paid in full in order to be rostered to a team.
Are there scholarships?
Yes but they are very limited and our ability to afford them never meets demand. We have several fund raisers throughout the year to raise money for scholarships and we will vote as a board on requests until those funds run out.
Are there refunds?
In general, no there are not. PLEASE be sure your son or daughter is ready to commit before registering. By the time the season starts the vast majority of our funds is committed to field rentals, referees and medical trainers for the season. As a non profit who does not carry a sizable balance we are just simply not able to support refunds outside of dire circumstances.
What additional equipment costs are there?
Players will need cleats, girdle or game pants, game socks and some optional gear like receiver gloves or arm pads that are position specific. It is generally a good idea to wait until the team meeting before buying this gear. Some coaches have a color scheme they want or might arrange a bulk purchase to save money.
What additional team fees can I expect?
Some teams invest in team shirts or matching socks. Others might buy some training aids or pay for the film, the Hudl service or similar evaluation tools. It varies by coach and from season to season depending on the needs of the team. These costs are usually given during the team meeting at the beginning of the season and handled with a team fee or fundraising. They usually range from $25-$100 and coaches will work with families with circumstances where these fees are a hardship.
Can I opt out of team fees?
You should expect some team fees as part of your total cost to play. If your coach is unwilling to work with you or you feel the team’s money is not well spent, please contact a league representative. Fundraising and asking for money is one of the least fun parts of coaching and generally coaches are not going to ask for more than a reasonable amount. It is usually what they think they need to do some team building with shirts or get some film to be prepared for opponents. Teams usually only raise large amounts when they are proven winners and plan to travel deep in the playoffs and have the additional scout film and travel expenses to plan for.
What if I have a problem with my player’s coach?
If you feel your coach is doing something unsafe or unethical we encourage you to contact a board member immediately and we will look in to your allegation(s). Please realize that if your conflict is one of personalities or strategy about the game itself, we will usually side with the coaches. A league stepping in to remove a coach is almost universally destructive to a teams chances to compete and we will only take that step if we see signs of unsafe or unethical behavior. Otherwise we will attempt to mediate and hope both sides can come to place that is best for the players and the team.
Please understand that most parents woefully underestimate the time and energy that football coaches commit to a season of football and they commit to it entirely as volunteers.
What is the process for choosing coaches?
As a board we are in unanimous agreement that being a head coach of a tackle football team is one of the hardest jobs in youth sports. This means we work hard to pick the best candidates and then we try to support them as best we can.
ALL ADULTS WHO INTERACT ON THE FIELD WITH PLAYERS ARE THOROUGHLY BACKGROUND CHECKED. Regardless of the amount of time they interact with players.
We work hard every season to make sure we are bringing in the best candidates for these positions. We start by assessing our enrollment and diagnosing a need for a new coach or when a coach tries to transfer their team from another league we want to make sure they are ready for the jump from flag to tackle or investigate why things may not have gone smoothly in the league they left. Once we entrust a team to a Head Coach it is up to them to bring in the coaches that they feel they can work with best. Usually these are parents from the team. An awesome coach assistant coach who believes in passing the ball most of the time will not be a good fit for a Head Coach who wants to focus on running the ball. Sometimes it can just come down to personalities. Someone volunteering a dozen or more hours a week might just want to do the hard work of coaching with people they enjoy interacting with and sometimes that might mean choosing one assistant who might not be the former division 1 standout with elite experience.
With all of that being said, please be aware that even in the NFL with million dollar evaluation teams, they pick coaches who can’t put together a winning season or have some conflict in their locker rooms. We want to encourage parents to work with their coaches and make the most of bad seasons because ultimately they are still learning and maybe the coaches are too.